What is it?

What is it?

A smear is taken as part of a ‘routine’ check-up. A smear is a simple test that allows for the early detection of cervical cancer and the different precancerous stages.

When is it indicated?

When is it indicated?

The general guideline is: a smear everythree years from the age of 25.

  • If you have been tested regularly and the last few smears were fine, then you can stop when you reach age 65. The risk that a new cervical cancer develops after that is very small.
  • If you have been sexually active from an early age, it may be better to start getting tested earlier, staring from age 20, for example.

Test procedure

Test procedure
  • The physician uses a small brush to remove a few loose cells from the cervical wall. In a laboratory, the cells are stained and examined for abnormalities.
  • Smear tests are generally not painful, but inserting the speculum and the removal of cells may feel briefly uncomfortable.

Results

Results

If a smear test result is normal, the risk of cervical cancer is very small. In case of a precancerous stage, there is a small chance of developing cervical cancer at a later date. Simple treatment of a precancerous stage may prevent substantial cancer surgery years later.

If abnormal cells are detected in a smear test, the attending physician will contact you for additional tests and, potentially, start treatment.

Abnormal cervical smear

Abnormal cervical smear

If abnormal cells are detected in a smear test, the attending physician will contact you for additional tests and, potentially, start treatment.

In that case, the gynaecologist carefully examines the cervix with a microscope (colposcopy). Small lesions in the cervix with signs of early malignancy can be recognised this way. If required, a small tissue sample can be removed from this area of abnormality for further testing (biopsy). If the colonoscopy and/or biopsy confirm an abnormality that is significant enough, it is indicated for treatment. Treatment is therefore purely preventative to avoid that it worsens.

Leaflet

Leaflet

The leaflet below gives you a clear picture of the different steps in the examination and treatment of an abnormal cervical smear.

Only available in Dutch:

Centres and specialist areas

Centres and specialist areas
General gynaecology

Latest publication date: 14/12/2022
Supervising author: Dr Van Den Broecke Dirk